Sister Anne Kicks Out the Jams at Arlene’s

by delarue

Any band named after a MC5 song is usually worth checking out: in Sister Anne’s case, you have three more chances to check them out this month since they’re playing every Monday night at Arlene’s at 9. Their blend of punk and various shades of metal is as original as it is in-your-face and sexy. “I’m not here to be a good-time black girl,” frontwoman Kitana Andrews belted on the opening chorus of their first song this past Monday, sarcastically toying with white stereotypes about black women as the song shifted from slow to fast and back again, shades of the Stooges circa 1971. Tall and charismatic like a version of Grace Jones from just before the Road Warrior era but more feminine, she made a powerful presence out in front of the band.

Who have better chops and more eclectic taste than your average punk band. Shane Kerton is the rare rock drummer who actually swings; bassist Garrett Wright (whose mom was in the crowd, and is obviously cool because she was into the show) sprinted through a wicked solo and an endless series of tough hammer-on hooks on one song while guitarist Joe Torcicollo spun out storms of metal shrapnel when wasn’t roaring or growling or playing a gentle 60s folk-rock tune. Which he did, with Andrews singing quietly how she was happy to be somebody’s girl – and of course they punked it out from there. They kept the sense of the unexpected going: one of the songs had Torcicollo channeling James Williamson and Kerton doing a totally spot-on Dennis “Machine Gun” Thompson groove. Another was faster, with a bit of a southern rock feel, like Molly Hatchet without the screeching (hard to imagine, but try it); another sounded like the UK Subs with Torcicollo firing off acidic sheets of noise. They ended the set with a surprisingly slow, quiet, brooding tune, the lyrics mourning someone “who I used to be.” The band’s one mistake was a cover and it was awful. Wikipedia says – right or wrong, you never know with them – that it was written by Mike Oldfield (the Exorcist Theme guy) and was a hit for Hall & Oates sometime back in the 80s. Whatever. Nobody’s going to come see this band for their covers, anyway – it’s their originals that kick ass. They got the show back  on track and ended with a funny singalong by a former bass player (they used to have two of them), Leon Chase of Uncle Leon & the Alibis that put the crowd in the mood for the club’s weekly punk/metal karaoke.